Anyone who grows cannabis for their own consumption in County Durham, will no longer be targeted by the police after they declared the illegal activity was not a priority.
Durham Constabulary declared it would only go after people using the drug if there was a complaint or if they were being “blatant”.
The police force insisted it would continue to tackle commercial cannabis farms and other areas of criminality associated with the production of the drug, but those who grow and use at home would not be actively targeted and pursued.
The Mirror reports:
Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg outlined the plans and said he hopes the chance to avoid prosecution will stop the cycle of reoffending.
Mr Hogg said: “We are not prioritising people who have a small number of cannabis plants for their own use. In low level cases we say it is better to work with them and put them in a position where they can recover.
“In these cases the most likely way of dealing with them would be with a caution and by taking the plants away and disposing of them. It is unlikely that a case like that would be brought before a court.
“Of course it is up to the government to change the law but I trying to open up a debate about drugs and drugs policy.”
Both Mr Hogg and Chief Constable Mick Barton are outspoken in their views on the decriminalisation of drugs.
The move was slammed by anti-drug campaigners.
David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: “Durham Constabulary are out on their own with this and are trying to lead the law on this issue.
“If the Chief Constable and Police Crime Commissioner want to indulge in that policy then it is not necessary to make it public, because clearly making this sort of announcement will serve to encourage anyone who so minded.”
Mr Hogg said, under the new proposal, anyone caught with the Class B drug would be offered the chance avoid prosecution by signing up to a crime reduction initiative.
He said the programme would allow addicts to receive help while allowing people caught with small amounts of the drug to be treated in a “fair and measured” way.